A Day Trip to Alexandria and Arlington National Cemetery

Alexandria Virginia is one of our favorite small U.S. cities. We once, in our distant, murky past, rented a beautiful historic Old Town townhouse for the spring and even put in an offer to buy one. We return during as many DC visits as possible to reacquaint ourselves with its history, its colonial architecture and this time, the city’s most regarded restaurant.

 

Arlington National Cemetery

We began this trip with a brief stop at some of the primary visitor stops at Arlington National Cemetery. After a brief orientation at the Visitor Center and walk through the rows upon rows of precisely placed headstones and manicured gravesites, we took an easy half-mile walk to the Kennedy Family gravesite and the Eternal Flame. Then, after a somewhat circuitous climb up to the Robert E. Lee family’s Arlington House estate for a brief tour of the grounds and overview of the family genealogy (including his wife’s great grandfather, George Washington). Then, after another half-mile walk, we reached the amphitheater and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier–and the incredibly formal, incredibly solemn (not to speak of very drawn out) changing of the guard ceremony. We were, unfortunately, not able to make it to a couple other planned Arlington stops, especially the Marine (Iwo Jima) and Air Force Memorials. Perhaps next time.

Arling-headstones-g (5) Arling-Lee House-from bottomArling-amphitheaterArling-changing guard-vg

 

Old Town Alexandria

Then, hopping back onto the Metro, we made it down to Alexandria in time for lunch at Loporta’s (see below) and a walk down King Street (the city’s primary commercial street) to Old Town. Although we unfortunately missed the 1:30 Footsteps to the Past history tour, we partially compensated with our own, self-guided tour. This included the shops and restaurants of King Street, historical sites including the Christ Church (attended by Washington and Robert E Lee), the Gadsby Tavern (which served Washington, Jefferson, Madison, et al), the Presbyterian Meeting Hall (a Revolutionary War meeting site and home of that war’s Unknown soldier tomb) and the George Washington Masonic Memorial (whose members included many of the nation’s founders).

Alex-King St-gAlex-Gadsby Tav-inside (2)Alex-Christ Church-exterior

We strolled many of the historic paved and cobblestone streets, with their 4,200+ 18th and 19th century homes. These included the 211 S. Lee Street home at which we temporarily stayed) and the newer (not to speak of more affordable) Cameron Mews townhouses and gardens where we almost bought.

Alex-wood homes-gAlex-211 S LeeAlex-Mews-new

Then, down to the river, where we spend over an hour in the Torpedo Factory Art Center. while displays document the building’s role in manufacturing torpedo casings for both world wars, it is currently devoted to art, it houses e88 artist studios and galleries with all types of art, from oil paintings and acrylics, to metal sculptures and mixed media installations.

Alex-TorpedoAlex-Torpedo art

By then it was cocktail hour. We went down to the docks, overlooking the marina from the bar of the Chart House, before our short walk for dinner at Restaurant Eve.

 

Alexandria Meals

As discussed in our DC Restaurant blog, we ate at two Alexandria restaurants: a casual lunch at Laporta and a long-awaited  dinner at Restaurant Eve.

Laporta

A pleasant lunch stop, a few short blocks from Alexandria’s King Street Metro station. We enjoyed both our dishes: the sauteed Virginia Brook Trout fillets rolled in French mustard and breadcrumbs with lime beurre blanc and especially the large Maryland Crab Cake with mustard seed cream.

Restaurant Eve

We had been looking forward to dinner at this highly regarded restaurant. Although our a la carte meal did not offer the full experience of the restaurant’s prix fixe menu, we don’t plan to give the restaurant a second chance. The three of us began with two appetizers: roasted shiitake mushrooms with kimchi radish, cilantro and dressed greens; and diced bigeye tuna with honeycomb, Serrano yogurt and spring onions. These were followed with three entrees: pan-roasted ribeye with sautéed ramps and Jerusalem artichokes and veal jus; paparadelle with butter-poached morels and English peas; and lamb loin and belly.

Although each dish was serviceable, the kitchen staff is overly enthralled with salt. It sounds like our experience may not have been all that unusual. When we mentioned this to the sommelier (who we liked much more than our rather stiff and formal server), he told us that some regular patrons, apparently aware of this tendency, request that no salt be added to our dishes. Perhaps it was our fault for not sending each of our dishes back and requesting the same. But whoever was at fault, we will not return.

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